April 2 1999

Glayde Whitney's Racist Toxic Waste is Scary Indeed

By: Roosevelt Wilson
Tallahassee Democrat

My childhood buddies and I paid a dime apiece almost every Friday night to get scared half to death.

That was the price of a ticket to watch "The Mummy," "Frankenstein," "The Wolf Man" and a weekly diet of other horror movies.

Four or five of us always walked home from the movie, and, unfortunately for me, I lived the farthest, so I had to walk the last block or so home alone.

Was I afraid? Man, the hair on my nape seemed to be a hand about to grab me by the collar. I could hear the dragging feet of The Mummy gaining on me.

It was a weekly ritual and my reaction was always the same: Wide-eyed and with my heart pounding almost audibly, and while constantly looking over my shoulder, I kept telling myself: "I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid."

Those memories returned last week as I read of the white-supremacist toxic waste spewed by Florida State University professor Glayde Whitney. Not only does he add to the toxic waste site of ex-Ku Klux Klansman David Duke's autobiography, but Whitney also dumps the racist bile on his students in a mandatory psychology class.

In his foreword to Duke's autobiography, in which Duke supposedly defines and validates white supremacy by exposing its genetic roots, Whitney says Duke's work is "a painstakingly documented, academically excellent work of socio-biological-political history that has the potential to raise tremendous controversy and change the very course of history."

Whitney and Duke aren't the first white men to claim white supremacy.

Throughout history that same belief has been expressed in many ways, includingAmerican law that said a black person had a value three-fifths that of a white one.

History books and papers are replete with statements declaring the white man superior and the black man inferior.

Reflecting on my childhood days as I tried to make myself believe what I knew was a lie by constantly repeating, "I am not afraid," I wonder why some white men constantly feel the need to keep repeating to themselves: "White people are intellectually superior to blacks."

Since whites made this a nation of mixed-race people by raping slaves and Native American women, how can Whitney, Duke and other white supremacists be sure that they themselves aren't part black? How can they be sure some of the women they married -- and consequently their children -- are not "infected" with black genes?

Whitney has every right to express his beliefs, but more poignant to me is a good-news, bad-news case. The good news is his courage to be honest. I respect him for that, despite disagreeing vehemently with his beliefs.

The bad news is that we have many more silent Whitneys among us, more than we realize. They look us in the eye with a smile while thinking supremacist thoughts. Some make everyday decisions, including passing laws, designed to preserve, protect and/or recapture white privilege.

And let's not forget the most immediate casualties of Whitney's academic freedom: students who are devastated by his teaching but cannot graduate without taking his class.

Roosevelt Wilson is an associate journalism professor at Florida A&M University and publisher of Capital Outlook , a weekly newspaper. Write him at coutlook@aol.com.

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